As part of my virtual tour for you of my adopted hometown of Natick, MA I recently gushed about its public library in the center of town. And while that library is amazing in size, service, collection, history and architecture it is not my favorite library in Natick. You see, we are lucky enough to have not one, but TWO libraries in town.
The Bacon Free Library is located in historic South Natick, a short walk from where we rented our apartment before buying a home closer to the center. When we lived there I was too busy with planning a wedding and trying to find a home to bother with reading. In fact, that point in my life came near the end of a long reading drought so I never stepped foot in the "little library" just up the street until I became less self-absorbed and had moved across town. But the first time that I did visit it to pick up an inter-library loan I actually gasped. What the heck had I been missing?!
This place is very small and very old. It smells like you are living inside a very old but very well loved book. It looks like you are browsing around someone's home. It is compact which makes it impossible to be there without getting to know the others visiting the library that day.
In fact, it is best known for its incredibly popular Story Hour. Families pack the place with kids eager to be told tales from kindly librarians with a gift for capturing attention and harnessing imagination. There are also monthly Art for All programs which encourage people of all ages to stop by and become creative together in the medium of the month. Then there is the Author Series where writers big and small give intimate talks to interested patrons. Sue Grafton is one such example.
The library is nestled along the banks of the Charles River - that pretty slice of water you see the Boston 4th of July fireworks shoot off of each summer. Of course, The Charles stretches throughout the state, but the downtown shots are how most people recognize it. But that is a post for another day. The library sits up on a hill and the sloping hill plateaus out underneath huge shade trees with the beautiful Natick Dam spilling behind on the river. This is where they host the authors, free music performances, garden tours and fund raising events. It is tucked out of the way of the traffic and is just an awesome spot to dive right in to that new book you just checked out.
Natick's Historical Society is housed in the basement of the library and has very limited hours but I am hoping to get there one day when they are open. I would love to know more about the building itself. All that the website tells me is that the library has existed since 1880 and is one of the oldest in the country. Like libraries everywhere it is hurting from budget cuts and is doing its best to stay open and staffed full-time with employees receiving part-time wages. This past weekend they had a big rummage sale which netted me a stationery set and a small rug for Andy's latest Andy Town project - the shed. But there were lots of other pretty items to choose from.
I hope its doors are able to stay open for this section of the community. It is like the Mom & Pop store trying not to get overlooked by the big chains. I do my best to support it and wish I had spent time there when I lived just around the corner. Natick's "little library" has a big heart and a long history. And we are lucky to have her.
What types of events or services does your library offer for the community? Do you even think of your library as a place to go for something other than books? What kind of fund raising methods does your library use?